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2016 Middle East - Mobile Infrastructure and Mobile Broadband

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Last updated: 12 Dec 2016 Update History

Report Status: Archived

Report Pages: 125

Analyst: Kylie Wansink

Publication Overview

This valuable report on the mobile broadband sector in the Middle East provides information on trends and developments in this mostly progressive region which relies heavily on mobile communications. A number of recent investments in infrastructure have seen 4G LTE services flourish in many markets. This report provides key information and statistics on the mobile broadband sector for the Middle East. Included in the report are the following countries: Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

Researcher:- Kylie Wansink
Current publication date:- December 2016 (2nd Edition)

Executive Summary

Mobile broadband revenues rising in the Middle East

For those countries of the Middle East which have reached mobile saturation; we are beginning to see positive signs that mobile broadband revenues are beginning to grow. In Bahrain, for example, revenues from mobile broadband are continuously rising and now contribute over 35% to total broadband revenues – compared to only 7% in 2010. Mobile data and mobile broadband also present the next significant revenue growth opportunity for the mobile operators in Iran. Revenue from mobile data is quickly edging towards a 40% market share in Turkey, while mobile voice revenue is clearly in decline.

Many countries have invested heavily in improving mobile broadband infrastructure, including 4G LTE deployment. The operators in Israel, for example, have focused on expanding network coverage and increasing download speeds through LTE.

In 2016 in Lebanon, both Touch and Alfa are planning upgrading and expanding their 4G networks. Iran is also upgrading to TD-LTE as well as moving towards LTE-A.

Mobile broadband has also become a feasible proposition in Oman and a viable alternative to fixed broadband following substantial investments in HSPA and LTE technology.

Etisalat and du in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have both deployed sophisticated HSPA+ and LTE networks which cover a large proportion of the country. Both operators are also demonstrating a key interest in 5G developments. Development of 4G in Jordan is well underway and growing strongly with an estimated penetration of around 11-14% in 2016.

Kuwait has one of the most vibrant and well established mobile sectors in the Middle East and the large operators are now moving towards offering more value-added services as well as technology and network upgrades. In the past year or so, Zain Kuwait has launched M2M services for corporate customers as well as VoLTE services. Zain Kuwait also recently conducted successful tests of 4.5G technology in conjunction with Huawei.

Qatar has increasingly become a progressive market for telecoms and is also a leader in the Middle East. In 2016 the country has a vast array of networks and services on offer including 4G, VoLTE, LTE-A, M2M and fibre-based technologies. It is also looking towards a future based on 5G.

Key developments:

  • Mobile broadband usage is growing in Bahrain – representing over 50% of total broadband usage today.
  • The mobile content and applications market in Israel has come under renewed focus given the increasing affordability and penetration of smartphones.
  • Mobile payments solutions are beginning to emerge in Lebanon and are being offered by banks and mobile operators alike.
  • The fingerprint law in Saudi Arabia has resulted in a drop in mobile broadband subscriptions.
  • Smart phones are becoming increasingly popular in the UAE, accounting for close to two thirds of the country’s mobile handsets.
  • There is ongoing Fixed-Mobile Conversion (FMC) taking place in Iran.
  • 3G penetration is over 70% in Jordan.
  • The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) in Oman has approved the Access and Interconnection (A&I) Regulation which aims to make market entry easier for new players in order to promote competition.
  • Despite the challenging environment in Syria, there are some glimpses of hope with both mobile operators reporting rising in revenue in 2015, with much of this attributed to growth in mobile data services.
  • Broadband subscriber growth in Yemen has received a boost in recent years following the launch of mobile broadband services. However fixed and mobile broadband services are far from affordable for much of the population.
  • While growth in the Iraqi telecoms sector is currently influenced by the serious civil unrest occurring in the country; it is expected that there will be opportunities for grow in both the mobile communication and mobile broadband markets in the future.
  • Viva, Zain and Ooredoo of Kuwait have all turned their attention towards LTE-A. The involvement of Huawei has been pivotal to the development of LTE-A in Kuwait.
  • Both VoLTE and LTE-A services have been launched in Qatar over the past twelve months or so.
  • In April 2016 4G LTE services were launched by Turkcell, Turk Telekom and Vodafone Turkey.

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